Thursday, 11 April 2019: Government sacks Scruton after remarks about Soros and Islamophobia, EU extends Brexit deadline, Netanyahu wins Israel’s election, Germany’s taxi drivers protest Uber deregulation plans


Government sacks Scruton after remarks about Soros and Islamophobia: Conservative academic Sir Roger Scruton has been sacked as head of a government housing body following comments about Islam, China and George Soros. In an interview, Scruton was unrepentant about his views on George Soros, the Hungarian-American philanthropist, who is frequently cited in antisemitic conspiracy theories and attacked by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Scruton, who has been a friend of Orban for more than 30 years, denied that he was antisemitic or Islamophobic. He said he stood by comments he has made in the past that Islamophobia was a propaganda word invented by the Muslim Brotherhood in order to stop discussion of a major issue. Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman said these comments were deeply offensive and completely unacceptable, and it was right that Scruton had been dismissed.,

Speedboat killer arrives back in UK: Jack Shepherd, who was found guilty of killing a woman in a speedboat crash on the River Thames, has arrived in the UK to finish his extradition from Georgia. He fled before the trial which convicted him of the manslaughter of Charlotte Brown. After months in hiding in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, he handed himself into police in January and was jailed for three months while his extradition was arranged by the British and Georgian authorities. He will appear in court in London on Thursday to be sentenced in person for the death of Brown. He will then begin his six-year sentence, but he has been granted an appeal against his conviction.,

Government website sends people to escort service: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has inadvertently been sending members of the public looking for advice on encouraging pollinators to a website advertising escort services. The Bees’ Needs campaign, launched in 2014 by the then environment minister Lord de Mauley, called on the public to do more to help insect pollinators by growing more nectar-rich flowers, leaving patches of land to grow wild and cutting grass less often. However, the site now displays a list of hundreds of British neighbourhoods, all of which link to a site offering escorts. It is unclear when the domain was taken over by the escort site, but the website was being cited in parliament as late as September 2015.

Prime Minister’s Questions: Jeremy Corbyn: May’s legacy will be rising poverty and crime
Vocational alternative to universities: Institutes of Technology to boost skills training
Syria: Small number of children return to UK


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EU extends Brexit deadline: On Thursday, the European Union extended the Brexit deadline until 31 October. Britain has agreed to the extension. The new Halloween deadline was the result of a high-stakes, six-hour summit in Brussels that saw prime ministers and presidents gather from across the continent to determine Britain’s fate. The deal includes a review at the end of June that might enable Britain to terminate its extension early. The new date will push Brexit back by more than six months, but it will do little to resolve the deep, underlying issues that have stalled the project’s progress over the past three years. Meanwhile, the UN announced on Tuesday if Britain leaves the EU without a deal, the bloc and Britain’s smaller trading partners stand to lose big, but Beijing and Washington could reap huge benefits. China could gain an additional $10.2 billion in exports to Britain, while the United States could add $5.3 billion in exports to the country.,,

Netanyahu wins Israel’s election: Benjamin Netanyahu is set to serve a fifth term as Israel’s prime minister after his main rival Benny Gantz conceded that he had lost the election. With 97% of votes counted, Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Blue and White party led by Gantz had tied with 35 seats each in the 120-seat house, the Knesset. However, the rightwing bloc that Netanyahu is part of had 65 in total, a comfortable majority. Netanyahu has already begun to broker deals with religious and far-right parties to form Israel’s next government. Palestinian leaders criticised the election results and said the results endorsed an indefinite Israeli occupation of the West Bank, human rights abuses there, and growing encroachment on Palestinian lands.,

IMF calls for more investments in Germany: The International Monetary Fund has warned that fiscal stimulus could be needed in Australia, Germany, China and several other countries due to the risk of a sharper-than-expected economic slowdown. The IMF said there was a case that these countries, which also included South Korea and Japan, should enact limited, high-quality fiscal stimulus. Vitor Gaspar, director of the IMF’s fiscal affairs department, singled out Germany, where he said more public spending was needed, particularly when financing costs there were so low.,

European election: Catalonia’s ex-president Carles Puigdemont to run as candidate of his electoral alliance
European Central Bank: ECB holds interest rates as Draghi warns of downside risks


Any extension has to be useful and serve a purpose. And our common purpose is to get the ratification of the withdrawal agreement.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has given a warning to the UK, insisting that any Brexit extension must serve a purpose.


Germany’s taxi drivers protest Uber deregulation plans: Taxi drivers across Germany on Wednesday protested against government plans to relax regulations that would allow ride-hailing services such as Uber to operate in the country. Uber has permission to operate in Berlin, Munich and Dusseldorf, albeit under heavy restrictions, including requiring special licenses for drivers. The government has proposed relaxing those restrictions. However, the taxi industry has urged Berlin to shelve the reforms, saying it would decimate the livelihoods of taxi drivers. Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said the government needed to take a balanced approach. The minister acknowledged the protests in a video showing him riding inside a taxi. He said he would meet some of the demands issued to him by the taxi drivers’ association.

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Police raids across Germany: Police have carried out extensive raids in four German states on premises linked to suspected far-right extremists. The raids targeted charities suspected of providing financial and propaganda support to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, the interior ministry said. Around 90 properties in ten states were searched. Hamas, which has armed and political wings, took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after it defeated the PLO-affiliated Fatah party in Palestinian elections. The US, Israel and the EU consider Hamas a terrorist group. The raids in Germany come as the Gaza Strip suffers from a mounting humanitarian crisis marked by electricity shortages and the deterioration of critical health, water and sanitation services.,

Mediterranean Sea: Refugees on stranded NGO rescue ship in poor state
Croatia: China builds relations with Croatia – EU is worried

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Game of Thrones at The Tower of London: Tourists who visited the Tower of London on Tuesday were treated to an unusual “Game of Thrones” theme. The Coldstream Guards played a version of the popular series’ theme tune, while actors performed with swords. The Coldstream Guards are the oldest continually-serving infantry regiment in the British Army and serve ceremonial duties at royal functions. The crowd waiting for the traditional melody of “The Standard of St. George March” were surprised to suddenly hear the soundtrack of “Game of Thrones”.


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